Emotion 1: Emotional cause and effect


Warming up

Before we get started, read this snippet from Watership Down, and then jot down your answers to the questions below.

(You don't have to write an essay, just a few notes to pin your thoughts.)

To rabbits, everything unknown is dangerous. The first reaction is to startle, the second to bolt. Again and again they startled, until they were close to exhaustion. But what did these sounds mean and where, in this wilderness, could they bolt to? The rabbits crept closer together. Their progress grew slower. Before long they lost the course of the brook, slipping across the moonlit patches as fugitives and halting in the bushes with raised ears and staring eyes. The moon was low now and the light, wherever it slanted through the trees, seemed thicker, older and more yellow.

Watership DownRichard AdamsSource
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Discussing your answers

The questions about this snippet touch on the key themes of our three lessons about emotion in narrative:

  • What do emotions mean?
  • What causes them?
  • How do they influence our actions?
  • How do we represent them in story?
  • How do stories evoke emotion in the reader?

That's a lot to explore, so let's get started with Lesson 1.

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